Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Music of Being

It is no secret that I love the Arts and Literature. I have surrounded myself with it. It permeates my very being. The things that I read and look at and sing comprise a more three dimensional picture of who I am as a person.

If you really want to get to know me, ask me what song is playing in my head at the moment. Usually there is a song in my head. Sometimes it stays there for days. "Besame Mucho" (in Spanish, not English) is the latest victim of my attention. It has been playing in my head all week.

Or, you can ask me to sing something for you. How I approach my music is indicative of what the operations of my soul are. I always sing from the inside out. The communication of the meaning of the song and the feelings that it stirs within me are very important to how I interpret the song. Even if I am singing something that I dislike, I always try to put myself in the shoes of the composer. What was he trying to get across to the listener? And somewhere in the middle, I sometimes feel like I lose myself in the music, itself. It becomes part of me and I, part of it. My music provides an intimate look at who I am.

Many times, you will hear voice teachers say that voice is the instrument most intimately connected to the soul of the person. I think that's true. It is the only completely organic instrument. All other instruments are tools created out of something else. I put my heart and soul into my music and so, if you want to know about me, listen to me sing. If I want you to know me, I will sing for you. Music just wells up in my soul and spills over.

I also find that I identify people with pieces of music. Not so much with the lyrics, but the way they move, the cadence of their voice and how their face looks to me at any given moment. When I was a child, I had a friend whose mother I associated with the old Paul Simon song "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover". She was a happily married woman (and still is, by the way) and there was nothing at all in the lyrics that identified her to me, but she moved and spoke in a way that reminded me of the drum cadence at the beginning of each verse.

My daughter will forever be associated with the beautiful Irish Reel that she does to U2's "Elevation". It makes my heart stand still and my eyes water to see the power and confidence that I always wished I had, shine in the face of my child. Consequently, "Elevation" always reminds me of her. Not the words, necessarily, but the power and freedom of the music.

I's an odd thing. But, as Aldous Huxley said, "That which comes closest to expressing the Inexpressible, is music." And I find that that is true. When there are no words for a feeling or a thought, music fills the space of the words for me.

Music defines me. I would not be the person that I am without it. I am constantly expanding my experiences through it; finding new people, new expressions of life and faith, and ways to give voice to beauty and pain. It enriches my life and deepens my understanding of those around me. Without it, my life would be a very dull, two-dimensional place.

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